General Research Tips
Sharing Research Expenses

When most of us were small children, we were taught by our parents to share. Little did we know that this lesson, aside from helping to make the world a better place, might actually result in increased profits for our businesses. What, you are asking, can this possibly have to do with market research?

Small businesses often feel locked out of traditional research methodologies. Research often can be quite costly. While a large business will spend tens of thousands of dollars for a single research study without hesitation, small businesses rarely are in a position to consider such a research expenditure. However, through the concept of sharing, small businesses can reap the rewards of quality research without paying unaffordable costs.

Sharing of research expenses has been common for a number of years. Omnibus studies allow businesses to add a few questions to an already planned survey for a fraction of the cost of a custom study. Typically, several companies will participate in an omnibus study, effectively sharing the cost.

Companies wishing a more customized approach can still realize the rewards of cost sharing. This can be done by contacting other companies, sometimes competitors, and asking them if they would be willing to share the cost of a research study. Such companies, working together, can be involved in the custom design of a research project. For example, a dry cleaner may wish to hold focus groups with consumers to better understand consumer perceptions of the dry cleaning business. A typical focus group costs around $4,000, and it usually is advisable to conduct a minimum of four groups at a time. By sharing the cost with four competitors (who could be located in different parts of a city, and, therefore, not be competing for the same customers), a dry cleaner could obtain the benefit of a full set of focus groups for $4,000, instead of $16,000 dollars. There may be a slight up-charge for separate reports, but the basic cost savings would still remain.